West Going Democrats Direction?

According to most political analysts and this Washington Post article, western states including New Mexico are moving towards the Democratic Party. While this could help Governor Richardson in his bid for the nation’s top office, there are differening opinions as to why the west is turning blue. Author Ryan Sager has written a book called “Elephant in the Room” in which he makes the case that the Republican Party lost the west by turning their backs on limited government. No matter what is really happening, it is a trend that will be interesting to track. If the west indeed does turn blue, New Mexico may be considered a trendsetter as it has been blue (as far as state politics are concerned) for many years.

The First Limited Government Candidate for the ’08 Presidency Jumps Into the Ring

Ron Paul, the constitutionalist-Republican Congressman from Texas has set up an exploratory committee for the purposes of running for President in 2008. Given the dearth of small-government types in either party that have announced for 2008, Dr. Paul’s candidacy is a welcome development. If nothing else, it will be interesting to what extent he can attain a platform to discuss his limited-government views. We at the Rio Grande Foundation certainly welcome a real debate over the role of government in our daily lives.

Water Authority Engages in Outrageous Eminent Domain Abuse

The water fight between the government-run Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority and the privately owned New Mexico Utilities Inc. is getting ugly. As the Rio Grande Foundation has previously pointed out, a government takeover of a private utility is a foolish step that will only result in higher water rates.
Having listened to Senator Ortiz y Pino discuss water policy at a recent legislative forum and hearing him say that 90% of New Mexico’s water is used for agriculture while only 10% is used for residential purposes, I realize once and for all that the proposed takeover has nothing to do with water or conservation and it has everything to do with power. A sad commentary on the government agencies that are supposedly there to serve us.

Will Bush Raise Taxes?

In my humble opinion, one of the few bright spots of President Bush’s Presidency has been the tax cuts that have reduced the burdened the federal government places on hard-working Americans. That is why it is very unnerving to hear that the Administration is now talking with Democrats about forcing more taxpayers and small businesses to pay a greater portion of their incomes to the federal government in the form of payroll taxes.
Such a policy would result in the largest tax hike in U.S. history and would do nothing to solve the severe problems assoociated with Social Security. Rather than passing a massive tax hike in the hopes of propping up a system that robs younger workers of their money, President Bush should focus on solutions that give individuals greater control over their financial futures.

Global Warming, on again, off again

While snow slowly melts here in New Mexico, back east there is a heat wave going on and people are talking about global warming. Of course, just like warm winters and large snowstorms are nothing new, neither is talk about global climate change. In fact, as Jeff Jacoby points out, there have been apocalyptic forecasts of global weather change — whether that be heating or cooling — for more than 100 years.
While I am not a climate scientist, it is no coincidence that the people who want to grow government the most have also jumped at the chance to use global warming as a tool to further their agendas.
What is perhaps even more perplexing about the global warming issue is the role that apocalyptic fears have played in human society for thousands of years. There seems to be a desire on the part of many humans to be living in a “special” time, even if it means death and destruction for themselves and their species.

Flight Cost too Much, Bad Service? Blame this law (in part)

Richard Branson and his company, Virgin, may someday launch spacecraft from the New Mexico desert and yet, he can’t own an airline that flies within the United States because he’s a foreigner. Aside from the fact that such regulations are unfair, they are harmful to American travelers. Competition is reduced and the variety of services provided is constrained. In fact, a study by consulting firm Campbell-Hill Aviation Group argued that Virgin America would save travelers $786 million per year.
So, what special interest might be behind such a misguided policy….why, labor unions of course! How typical of the labor movement. Instead of welcoming competition and the new jobs that would be created by additional airlines, the labor unions would rather stifle competition and stick travelers with the bill. And they wonder why union membership is collapsing.

Czar’s and Tsar’s….America is not the place

The Governor’s office sent out a press release this morning, “Governor Bill Richardson Appoints Linda Roebuck as
Behavioral Health Czar”
that caught my attention. No, the Rio Grande Foundation hasn’t taken a particular interest in behavioral health and as far as we know, Ms. Roebuck is a fine person…the problem is the job title “Czar.” According to our friends at Wikipedia, Tsar (same meaning as Czar) means “is a contraction of the earlier tsesar, derived from the Roman title Caesar. Great, so now we have an “emperor” of behavioral health. Not only is the name derived from an imperial title, but if you’ve read any history you’d know that Russia’s Czar’s were not exactly a successful bunch and they eventually gave way to the Lenin and the Soviets…not exactly a great track record if you ask me.
My intention here is not to poke fun at Governor Richardson. After all, we have a federal “Drug Czar” and various groups are constantly lobbying for one czar or another. I just hope that before more czar’s are named that more people understand that we shouldn’t want a “czar” in the first place.

Money is not the Answer to our Education Woes

It is no secret that Governor Richardson plans to boost education spending dramatically in 2007. But will his big-spending ways have any positive impact on kids’ educational attainment? Not according to a recent study by the American Legislative Exchange Council. As Matt Warner explains “After two decades of failure and almost twice the price, it’s time to give parents the power of choice.”
Hopefully, Governor Richardson will throw his support behind some educational reforms that are likely to have a positive impact, like tax credits.

First they came for your trans-fats…

With Democrats in control of Congress, global warming is bound to become an even bigger issue in 2007. New Mexico, apparently, will be leading the way as Governor Richardson recently outlined his plan to strictly regulate industrial emissions of so-called “greenhouse gases.”
Given all the talk of limiting industrial and automotive emissions, I was surprised to learn that the real cause of global warming is not cars and factories after all, but cattle. This article by Mr. Peters appeared in the Albuquerque Journal on Thursday and I’m still not sure if the author was joking when he wrote that we should be mandating catalytic converters to be fitted to the rear-ends and mouths of cattle….
As if the catalytic converter idea isn’t nutty enough, Mr. Peters then advocated placing heavy taxes on beef and bans on the serving of meat products. It is close to New Year’s, but nowhere near April Fool’s day. I hope the author was joking, but if you think his rationale will never be employed to restrict your freedom, you are sorely mistaken.